Aging can be a scary thing to think about. The thought of growing older and having unavoidable changes happen to your own body, not to mention the unknown factors surrounding your future personal living circumstances, are all topics of immense anxiety for many people.
As it turns out, a majority of aging related fears are misplaced and come from a society that lives in blissful ignorance of the subject. While you can’t pause your own biological clock from ticking, you have a lot more power over the aging process than you might think. It all boils down to everyday behaviors and habits ingrained in your routine, all of which have a direct influence on how you physically feel years from now.
Healthy aging is entirely possible, so don’t write yourself off as a lost cause when you have plenty of time to make a tangible difference in how you live your life. It all starts with building a wellness routine that is catered to your body’s specific needs as you grow older.
Continue reading to learn more about the importance of staying in shape as you age. Some of the topics we will cover include the following:
- The misconceptions and fear surrounding growing older
- Tips you can integrate into your lifestyle for healthy aging
- Mental health is no less important than physical health
The Misplaced Fear of Getting Older
A large chunk of society possesses a stigma against aging in general. Their fears can be linked to an overall decline in physical, mental, and cognitive abilities that often come as a result of growing old. While it is true that aging brings about certain inevitable changes that you likely aren’t looking forward to, there are plenty of misplaced concerns that surround aging and its effects.
Certain genetic factors may predetermine some characteristics of getting older, but that isn’t to say aging is anything like a death sentence. Outside of aesthetic and superficial concerns, folks seem to be under the belief that getting old means forfeiting certain aspects of your life. From getting canned at work to losing your social life, aging is associated with a lot of negativity that has the potential to ruin the stability and joy in your life, but that remains to only be a bleak outlook on the future and does not outweigh the positive factors that are equally as likely to happen.
Instead of resigning yourself to a dooming future filled with misery and sorrow, try switching your mindset to be more pragmatic and constructive. Sure, there will likely be the unavoidable forehead wrinkle or crow’s feet emphasizing the corners of your eyes, but having a more positive perspective will influence parts of your life the same as anything else.
Aging Can Be a Beautiful Thing
It’s no question that society places a lot of emphasis on the beauty of being young. There’s songs, movies, and plenty of other forms of media that emphasize the contrast between old and young individuals, ultimately favoring the appeal of youth.
Fortunately, that’s nothing more than a misconstrued narrative being pushed throughout many facets of society. Getting older does result in changes to your appearance and physical health, but those changes are not always a bad thing. Rather than spend your time worrying about how you’ll look in ten or twenty years, focus on the positives. Relationships get stronger, you gain wisdom through a multitude of life experiences, and you may even end up being happier with how you look as you age!
If your fears of aging primarily stem from losing lucidity and suffering diminished cognition, try not to fret too much. Certain changes are inevitable, such as an overall decline in mental and physical health, but there are many preventative measures you can take to ensure you maintain good health throughout your older years. Simple steps like daily exercise, getting enough sleep, having a balanced diet, taking care of health issues, and staying socially engaged are all fantastic ways to keep your mind and body in top shape as you get older.
Tips To Factor Into Your Wellness Routine for Healthy Aging
Exercise and Physical Activity
It’s no surprise that being physically active leads to improved health and longer life. We’re constantly exposed to dialogue revolving around the beneficial effects of exercise and what it can do for your body, and its reputation of being a healthy cornerstone of aging is just one of the key factors influencing a long, happy life.
Exercise may be off-putting for a number of people due to the strenuous physical demands it is often associated with, but it can be a lot more easy to accomplish than you might think. Intense weight lifting sessions and running marathons are both physical activities that demand a lot of energy and time, and it isn’t reasonable to assume everybody can commit to activities that are so extreme. The good news, however, is that exercise does not have to be a burden; any physical activity counts towards reaching your daily goals and will serve to benefit your health.
When it comes to exercising to preserve your health as you age, there are a number of options to choose from. Research shows endurance-based physical activities like swimming, running, and cycling all slow signs of aging in comparison to exercise that is solely focused on lifting weights. That doesn’t mean you should avoid weights or strength-building exercises altogether; in fact, gaining muscle and bulking up your physique is quite beneficial to your health and can reduce potential problems from developing later on.
If this still doesn’t sound very appealing, rest assured that you aren’t alone. What’s important isn’t how you obtain physical exercise – simply being active in any sense will improve your odds of maintaining good health as you age. You can even get your steps in by doing everyday tasks like gardening, dog walking, cleaning the house, running errands, and playing with grandchildren.
Sleep Quality and Rest
Very little changes regarding your body’s need for sleep as you age. Older adults need a sufficient night of rest just as much as younger individuals do to stay healthy and alert, and anywhere between seven and nine hours of sleep a night should be the target goal. What does change, however, can alter a person’s ability to make it through the night undisturbed.
Experiencing pain, feeling sick, or even taking certain medications can have adverse effects on sleep quality, which is why many older folks have difficulty getting an adequate amount of rest each night. This can lead to serious problems and make a person feel irritable, depressed, forgetful, and put them at risk of having accidents like falls and other injuries. Those who don’t obtain enough rest are more susceptible to memory and mood issues, as well.
Adults older than sixty-five are reported to have more difficulty concentrating and problem-solving than individuals who get quality sleep at night. Additionally, studies indicate that adults in their fifties and sixties who get less than six hours of sleep a night are at a higher risk of developing dementia. Getting consistent, quality rest will benefit your health and is even associated with lowered rates of insulin resistance, heart disease, and obesity.
Diet and Nutrition
Staying healthy means staying in shape, and to accomplish that you need to consider what you put in your body. A poor diet will result in undesired health effects later on, and the problems will only worsen the more they are ignored. Avoid developing any serious issues by making smart food choices and adopting a diet high in nutritional value.
There are a lot of ways you can add extra nutrition to your regular diet without forgoing the food you love. In general, you want to include whole grains, healthy fats, and fresh produce as a prominent part of your diet while cutting back on the dairy. Following a Mediterranean-style diet is associated with having a positive impact on health, so try adding in a couple extra fish dishes every week.
Healthy Aging Depends on Your Mental Health
Though it’s probably not the first concern that comes to mind when you think about the prospect of getting older, mental health is equally as important as physical health and should be taken just as seriously.
Mental wellness is essential to many aspects of your life and affects how you think, feel, and act. It’s imperative that you treat it no differently than other areas of your well-being and be aware of potential dangers that may jeopardize your overall health.
The Fear of Social Isolation
Feeling ostracized or experiencing increased fears of loneliness takes its toll on older folks and can be detrimental to keeping your health in check. As people grow older, they experience changes like hearing and vision loss, disabilities and injuries, reduced mobility, problems with cognition, and the loss of close family and friends, which all have an impact on maintaining social relationships. This isolation causes older adults to be more at risk for heart disease, chronic lung conditions, cognitive decline and memory problems, and symptoms of depression.
Getting old may seem like a death sentence to having a social life, but that doesn’t have to be the case. Being old doesn’t stop you from going out of your way to socialize, even if you feel a little out of place in conventional settings. Staying socially active is one of the most beneficial things you can do as you age, and it is associated with improved physical and psychological wellness.
While the mental aspect does not require much explanation, the physical benefits stem primarily from the fact that being social makes you a more active person. Spending time with others can help you reach daily physical activity goals without a rigid exercise routine. It can be as simple as walking in the park with friends, going bowling, or any number of other fun pastimes.
What Else Can You Do?
- Reduce/quit use of tobacco
- Attend doctor’s appointments regularly
- Be aware of your family’s medical history
- Pay attention to your brain health
- Make time for your hobbies and favorite activities
Aging is something that cannot be avoided. Everyone will experience changes as they grow older, and while physical and psychological health does start to take a downward turn, that doesn’t mean you need to resign yourself to a life of misery. Despite the stigma towards getting older, there is no reason to not enjoy the rest of your years with peace of mind.
Consider adopting some of this advice into your own personal wellness routine to sustain good health, even in your later years. Exercise, diet, and sleep quality all play a major role in keeping you happy and healthy, so do your part to make sure you are meeting your daily requirements. With a little dedication, you’ll be ready for whatever the future has in store for you!